The effect of socio-economic and emotional factors on gambling behaviour
Gambling represents a channel through which some relevant aspects of our social life, such as audacity, competition and risk, manifest themselves. Gambling is both a pleasing diversion and a way of socialisation, where gratification and problematic issues alternate. Most gamblers are social players who participate in games without any relevant implications on their life, regardless of how frequently they engage in the activity. Unfortunately, in some cases gaming activities can have a dramatic impact on the player to the point that he/she has little control over them. In such cases, the approach to gaming can be defined as critical or even pathological. Pathological gambling is a serious form of addiction that causes gamblers to suffer from social and financial problems as they constantly look for ways to increase their "dose". This study proposes a bivariate ordered probit approach aimed at examining the emotional factors of gambling expenditures and problematic behaviour or addiction while also controlling for socio-economic determinants. It is based on a survey among 1,315 gamblers in Sardinia (Italy) in the time span from June 2004 to March 2005. To measure gambling-related problems and gaming addiction we use survey responses on the existence of problems caused by game participation (in terms of psychological, relational, economic, labour difficulties directly linked to gambling) and on the need for help and/or the intention to stop the gambling experience. The findings show that women bet less than men and that income and gambling frequency are positively correlated with the amount of money allocated to gambling. Furthermore, having a sense of omnipotence and being willing to replay in case of a win increase the propensity to bet more money. Notably, women have a higher probability to be problematic gamblers after controlling for all other characteristics. Income is negatively associated with problematic gamblers while those who experience guilt or frustration after a loss and bet a higher amount of money have a higher probability of exhibiting gambling-related problems. Those who have other players in their family (wife/husband, children, brother/sister, parents and grandparents), do not play alone and gamble for many hours a day have a higher probability to become pathological gamblers. In addition, income positively affects the probability to have pathological consequences while education is negatively correlated to it. Finally, experiencing satisfaction in case of a win, disappointment in case of loss and excitement in the middle of the game is negatively associated with pathological players.
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